When a patient undergoes surgery, an anesthesiologist is responsible for administering the anesthetic (a sedative) and monitoring the patient’s response. Depending on the procedure, the anesthesia will put the patient in a semi-conscious or unconscious state where he/she is unable to feel pain.
Sometimes use of anesthesia leads to an error, which can occur as a result of medical staff negligence. The consequences of anesthesia error may be irreversible injury or death.
As a result of medical negligence or accident, patients can experience serious injury or death, even during a routine procedure. Injuries can include
- Brain damage or traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Spinal cord injury or paralysis
- Awareness and/or pain during surgery
- Heart attack
- Nerve damage
- Tracheal damage
- Hypoxia (deficient oxygen supply)
- Asphyxia (lack of adequate oxygen supply)
- Birth defects
- Loss of bodily function
In these tragic situations, victims and their families often want to know why the harm occurred. Medical negligence is the source of many anesthesia errors. Negligent actions include
- Delaying anesthesia administration: this error can be due to IV errors, vaporizer leakage or other unnoticed issues at the onset of surgery.
- Wrong dosage of anesthesia: overdose or underdose of anesthesia can be harmful.
- Failure to properly administer oxygen during surgery or properly intubate: an anesthesiologist will often intubate (insert a tube) to help the patient breathe safely during surgery. Intubation errors can cause serious injury, including tracheal damage.
- Preventable allergic reactions: all patient allergies should be properly catalogued and referenced prior to surgery.
- Failure to properly monitor the patient: the anesthesiologist is responsible for regulating the patient’s level of consciousness during the entire procedure and ensuring that the patient does not experience complications or distress. This involves not letting the patient go unattended.
- Failure to recognize complications: anesthesiologists are trained to monitor a patient’s heart rate, amount of oxygen in the blood and other vitals to ensure they are healthy. At the first sign of a problem the anesthesiologist must investigate possible causes and react immediately to keep the patient safe.
- Failure to communicate thoroughly with patient: patients must be provided with clear instructions prior to surgery, such as what to eat or drink, etc.
When negligence on the part of the anesthesiologist or medical team results in harm to the patient or in death, it is considered medical malpractice. Victims and their families who have been devastated by the results of an anesthesia error have the legal right to pursue compensation to help with the costs of long-term care and possible lifetime disability and to offset pain and suffering.
If you or a family member are the victim of an anesthesia error, please contact our office and speak with a member of the firm. The applicable statute of limitations is likely already running, so timing can be critically important to your case. Contact us today for a free, no obligation, confidential legal consultation.
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Raynes Erickson, Attorneys at Law focuses its practice on the legal representation of clients who are victims of medical malpractice, catastrophic injury, or wrongful death. Contact us today to learn more about your legal rights and how our litigation team can help you receive the compensation you deserve.